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From Stage to Screen: Movie Soundtracks by Musicians

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A great movie or song, alone, can inspire powerful emotions. But combined, sounds and images can amplify the sensation. The Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr, who worked on the soundtrack to Dennis Hopper's film Colours in the late-1980s, said he enjoys working on movies because “You're not restricted to working on something between three and five minutes long … It also can be quite solitary and it's nice not to have to please four or five other people.”

Film and sound existed separately in the early 20th century, but they ended up cementing a lasting complimentary relationship with each other, from the first feature length sound film in 1927, The Jazz Singer, to music videos today. Our minds love that sync of auditory and visual senses – whether it’s unintentional, like The Wizard of Oz synching with Dark Side of the Moon, or intentional, like the music and movie collaborations that follow: Jónsi (Sigur Rós) – We Bought A Zoo (2012) Some music seems to conjure up movies instinctively, as in the instrumentally and emotionally rich soundscapes of Sigur Rós, fronted by guitarist and vocalist Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson. For those of us wishing that Jónsi would follow us around playing a soundtrack to our lives (and have to settle for iPod daydreaming), we got the next best thing – he scored a movie, We Bought a Zoo. Director Cameron Crowe encouraged Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and the other actors in the film to listen to specific Sigur Rós songs so they could create the right energy for a scene: “the actors listened to the music during their takes; it quickly became part of the film’s DNA.” When Matt Damon finally confronts the iPhotos of his deceased wife that come to life around him in a sonic and sentimental crescendo, a little watery DNA can’t help but moisten the eyes of the audience as well. Trent Reznor (with Atticus Ross) - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) After winning a 2010 Golden Globe and Academy Award for their work on The Social Network, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross decided to pair up again to take on another David Fincher film, the highly anticipated The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Delicate chimes and thin pianos mixed with ferociously plucked strings and ominous bass create just the right amount of foreboding tingles the movie calls for. As the founder of Nine Inch Nails, Reznor seems naturally drawn to the darker side of the music spectrum. This especially comes out in his raw cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” with Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ singer Karen O during the movie’s opening sequence with a vigor that carries on throughout the film. Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead) – There Will Be Blood (2007) If the images in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood don’t scare you, the 80-piece in-your-face string orchestra will. Expanding on Radiohead’s already instrumental-heavy technique, guitarist and composer Johnny Greenwood’s score was well received and nominated for a Grammy. From the brooding lows to the quivering highs, the dissonant, disturbing and always loud strings act as a separate character in the film, adding an eerie personality to an already unsettling setting. Neil Young - Dead Man (1995) Leave it to Neil Young to score a psychedelic western starring Johnny Depp as William Blake, an accountant from Cleveland, as well as Jared Harris, Billy Bob Thornton and Iggy Pop in a dress all sitting around a campfire cooking beans. Improvising on guitar, piano and organ as he watched the film alone in a recording studio, Young provides the perfect rugged and deep jolts of music to go along with the story of a man who wrote his poetry in blood when the west was still young. David Bowie (with Trevor Jones) – Labyrinth (1986) The 1980s were an age of synthesizers. Trevor Jones and David Bowie couldn’t resist mixing the wide-ranging electronic instrument with orchestral ensembles in a hodgepodge almost as strange as the Jim Henson and George Lucas production they scored, Labyrinth. Starring Bowie as both the Goblin King and the film’s composer, the soundtrack has a fittingly ethereal, surreal feel. But the movie’s musical spell is often broken when Goblin Bowie and his minions break out into raucous songs that categorize the film in another '80s cliché of cheesy. Queen - Flash Gordon (1980) Queen’s melodic-dramatic overtures provide a natural soundtrack to a movie – especially one shot in the 1980s about a super hero, like Flash Gordon. And what better way to mimic the film’s ka-pow energy than with extensive use of electrifying synthesizers and overpowering harmonies. After all, Freddie Mercury’s music and performance carried with them a certain theatrical thrill fitting of an action movie. The theme song of the movie, “Flash” is a sonic comic book complete with character dialogue and laser beam sound effects over shouts of “flash!” accompanied by complimentary cymbal crashes. Pink Floyd – More (1969) From Dark Side of the Moon to Ummagumma, Pink Floyd has always voyaged into new and strange sonic territory fitting of futuristic movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Roger Water actually turned down the opportunity to score – something he later regretted. Pink Floyd, however, applied their experimental approach to Barbet Schroeder’s More, a film about a German hitchhiker who falls for an American girl addicted to heroin. Their avant-garde instrumentals and some of their heaviest songs are the perfect backdrop to this mind-bending trip. Be Sure to check out: Per_versions - Vitamin String Quartet Vitamin String Quartet Tribute to Nine Inch Nails Vitamin String Quartet: Strung Out On OK Computer Rusted Moon: Vitamin String Quartet Tribute to Neil Young Vitamin String Quartet Tribute to David Bowie Vitamin String Quartet Tribute to Queen Vitamin String Quartet Tribute to Pink Floyd

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Trent Reznor And Wife Starts Band, How To Destroy Angels

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The annoucment came yesterday that Trent Reznor and his wife Mariqueen Maandig, former singer for LA band West Indian Girl, have formed a group called How to Destroy Angels. Their new site shows Maandig in a video playing some very NIN-like music on some type of instrument with keys. A self titled EP has been disclosed as being self-released this Summer, putting an end to the questions of just what would Reznor do after putting NIN to bed. To add to the rumors of this, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo and Myspace accounts have been setup for the band, leading one to believe that there’s a lot of footage to be released in the near future. The name of the band is said to probably originate the band Coil’s single of the same name, a band Reznor has claimed were a big influence. In fact, Coil’s Peter Christopher had been involved in many NIN projects as a music video director, producer, and even remixer. You can check out their videos on Vimeo. Hard to say what this will yield, but I’m guessing some very dark music with the lovely voice of Maandig over the top. What do you think? Does this new husband/wife collaboration interest you?

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NIN Gear For Sale At Ebay

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Since Nine Inch Nails recently stopped touring for the foreseeable future, they’ve decided to put up a majority of their touring gear on Ebay for fans to purchase and use what they no longer need. Everything from speaker cones to guitars are online and able to be bid on. Visit eBay to see the entire list. Currently there’s a full mixing board, as well as several guitar pedals, some keyboard accessories and more. The band seems to be putting up more gear every week so keep an eye on their ebay site for more great buys! Also, keep an eye on for any updates on Trent Reznor’s new recording projects.

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Covers that Kill! Ten Cover Songs that are Better the Second (or third) Time Around

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Do you love a good remake or does the thought of a copycat make you cringe? Cover songs have been either angering or pleasuring our ears for decades.  Most popular artists produce cover songs as a form of artistic expression, a tribute to the original artist, or as perhaps a way of saying, "whatever you can do, I can do better,” showing off their talents. Whatever the intention, cover songs can have an unpredictable fan reaction because they are not typically judged on their own merit, but judged in comparison with the original song.  While some cover tunes may be celebrated as better than the original, others are loathed because loyal listeners may feel that what isn’t broke doesn’t need to be fixed. I love it when one of my favorite artists performs a cover because it gives me a chance to hear a familiar tune performed in a style that I love.  I typically prefer these new revamped versions over the old originals, but if a band I could care less about covers one of my favorites, the song is generally not music to my ears. Not saying I don’t absolutely LOVE George Michael or Trent Reznor, but here is a list of ten covers that I say are better the second (or perhaps third) time around:

1.   “Knockin on Heaven’s Door” by Guns n’ Roses (Original sung by Bob Dylan)

2.   “Easy Like Sunday Morning” by Faith No More (Original sung by The Commodores)

3.   "Tainted Love" by Marilyn Manson (Original by Gloria Jones)

4.   "Me and Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin (Original by Kris Kristofferson)

5.   "Hurt" by Johnny Cash (Original by Nine Inch Nails)

6.   “American Woman” Lenny Kravitz (Original by Guess Who)

7.   “Come Together” by Aerosmith (Original by The Beatles)

8.   “Wish” by Linkin Park (Original by Nine Inch Nails)

9.   “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” by Urge Overkill (Original by Neil Diamond)

10.  “Careless Whisper” by Seether (Original by George Michael)

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Bonnaroo 2009 - Nine Inch Nails's Last Show Ever

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It was Sunday morning at exactly 12:41 am that I heard the news via twitter. (Yes, I check twitter in the wee hours of the morning. Be honest - you do it, too) It was at this time that I saw a tweet by Matt Jordan from You Ain't No PIcasso reporting Trent Reznor's announcement:

“I just realized this is our last show in the United States… ever. Don’t worry. We’ll keep on going, I just feel like I’ll go f***ing insane if I keep doing this.” - Trent Reznor

Having done six tributes to Nine Inch Nails, I think it's safe to say that we at Vitamin Records are huge fans and definitely bummed to hear this news. This announcement comes less than a week after his letter of retreat from social networking in which he basically calls twitter uses idiots. (not all of us are!) We totally understand Trent's point of view though - you can't live life based on what millions of people want you to do, even if you are a rockstar.

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